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Kenji Lui
Director , Producer , Screenwriter
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Some recent films and thoughts

I've been spending more time at the cinema and on dvd recently, well, sometimes when you realize you are at the lower point of your life, and everything you do end up in vain, the best thing to do is probably just to sit back and enjoy a few movies and read some books to enrich your life, right?

It's interesting that the last few movies I saw are all very good, I mean, usually I only get one good film out of nine or ten I see in a row, but somehow the last six I saw are all not bad.

  1. United Red Army (dir: Koji Wakamatsu)

It's a docu-drama about the radical Japanese leftist student organization in the 70s and the outrageous Asama-Sanso incident. Listed as the no. 3 domestic movie of 2008 by the Japanese kinema journal (right after the oscar winning "departures" and my favorite "all around us", followed by "tokyo sonata" and "still walking"), i think it shows a really cruel yet sincere depiction of the red army. Although the film is more than 3 hours long and most of the scenes happen in merely a couple small cottages in the mountain and a holiday lodge, it never makes you feel boring as the drama is so absorbing and performance is so engaging.

2.  City of Sadness (dir: Hou Hsiao-hsien)

City of Sadness is always my favorite HHH's film. In terms of artistic achievement, perhaps "the Puppetmaster" is a better film that I admire more, but talking about viewing pleasure, this is definitely the one I enjoy most. Still remember the first time I saw it was many years ago in a cinema class, but I wasn't really a HHH fan at that time, so it didn't leave much an impression, later when I gotta learn to appreciate his cinema, I only gotta buy the dvd (which unfortunately is full screen and the image quality is quite mediocre), so I really felt great that I could see it again on the big screen... oh and btw, this is the 20th anniversary of "city of sadness", not sure if there's any special screening in taiwan too?

  1. Onibaba (dir: Kaneto Shindo)

  This is a really old Japanese period thriller from the 60s. I personally took advantage of a criterion dvd sale and this is one of the dvd I bought. Shindo's independent films are always interesting, what I like about his films is his rich cinematic language, he's always able to convey his ideas with very limited use of dialogue and through careful framing, composition and lighting, symbolic images and inventive use of music, there are so much to learn from his films. Onibaba is definitely one of his best, sure the dialogue-free "naked island" is another one shouldn't be missed...

  1. The Children are watching us (dir: Vittorio De Sica)

I always enjoy De Sica's films, "Bicycle Thieves", "Umberto D" are all so unforgettable, and so I ordered this dvd as well. Even though it isn't part of his neo-realism series (this film was made during the war, before the neo-realism movement), but still, the story and acting are very good, just like his later films, it's told from the perspective of a kid (which somehow reminds me of Ozu's films), it tells how the failure of a marriage can impact the heart of the children, well not exactly anything new, but I dunno, it just left a very very strong impression on me after viewing.

  1. Nigt and Fog (dir: Ann Hui)

I just saw it on DVD. Another nice drama by veteran director Ann Hui. The only complaint is that Simon Yam is too smart looking as the fuked up father, I know his performance is very good, but still...Anyway, I like the film, but then I like "The Way We Are" even more...

  1. The Message (dir: Chen Kuo-fu, Gao Qun-shu)

Very entetaining commercial film, better than I expected. The beginning setup reminds me of Kindaichi a bit. Acting is superb, Zhou Xun, Li Bingbing, Zhang Hanyu and even Alec Su are dynamic, the only weakness is probably the ending, which is too explanatory and preachy...

As I said, I just ordered a box of criterion dvd, films still waiting to be viewed are:

Mouchette (dir: Robert Bresson)

Empire of Passion (dir: Nagisa Oshima)

2 or 3 Things I know about her (dir: Jean Luc Godard)

Patriotism (dir: Yukio Mishima)

Salo (dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini)

Bergman Island

Hopefully all of them would be good too...

Now I am stil thinking if I should make a second order, considering if I should get the John Cassavetes five films box set.......but I am going broke....

over 12 years ago 0 likes  3 comments  0 shares
Mariejost 26 dsc00460
Re: The Message. Since this is a Mainland film, I wonder if they were forced to have that ending to get it to pass the censors? Look at the very different ending that the Mainland demanded to Internal Affairs before they would pass it. The good must triumph and the bad must be punished seems to be the requirement of these Mainland scripts. Rather limits what they can explore in a film, doesn't it?
over 12 years ago

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english, cantonese, mandarin
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San francisco, United States
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May 14, 2007